Shippers Get Creative With Multimodal Solutions

Q: What are some imaginative ways that different transport modes can work together to create new choices for shippers?

A: In today’s global marketplace, shippers often need solutions that go beyond U.S. borders and involve multiple modes to move goods from the point of origin to the final destination. Rail transportation is a critical link that supports the efficient and reliable flow of goods, and providers such as Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) work with multiple transportation providers to serve customers. In fact, more than 75 percent of FECR’s volumes are intermodal. In addition to services provided to motor carriers, FECR has developed strategic alliances with South Florida ports. These relationships deliver significant benefits to shippers—cost-effective transportation, additional capacity, and reduction in highway congestion delays.

Q: Can those ways also reduce delivery time to market without substantially raising costs?

A: Shippers can reduce costs and achieve faster delivery through multimodal solutions. For example, customers moving domestic or international freight through FECR’s new intermodal container transfer facility (ICTF) adjacent to Port Everglades are able to handle cargo with greater efficiency. Containers no longer need to be trucked via congested interstate highways to and from an off-site rail facility.

FECR has also invested in on-dock rail capabilities at PortMiami, allowing cargo to be easily transloaded from ship to rail, saving the time and expense of additional transportation from the port to an off-port rail facility. With on-dock rail capabilities at both ports, FECR can now efficiently serve the central Florida market using its Cocoa facility with minimal on-highway miles. Historically, this freight moved by truck from Jacksonville to Savannah, on very congested highway routes.

In addition, the South Florida Logistics Center (SFLC), a warehouse and distribution center offering state-of-the-art fumigation, is located adjacent to FECR’s Hialeah rail yard with on-dock rail service from both Port Everglades and PortMiami. FECR also has an inter-facility shuttle that allows goods to be moved without travel on congested highways.

All of these innovative relationships offer supply chain enhancements, and everyone benefits from reduced carbon emissions and less congestion on our nation’s highways.

Q: How can ports, railroads, trucking companies, and others work together and offer blended solutions that ease the capacity crunch?

A: With tightening capacity in other transportation modes, and the increased level of highway congestion, rail transportation, and furthermore intermodal rail transportation, can provide needed capacity while offering cost-effective, reliable service. Intermodal solutions can be especially helpful in locations such as South Florida where there is a significant imbalance of freight flows due to consumption outweighing production. By working with providers like FECR, motor carriers avoid the cost of empty backhaul loads, and shipments are not delayed due to lack of capacity or congested highways.

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